[[caption-width-right:300:[[WagTheDirector He even got featured in front of the]] ''main character''.]]

->''"They are not lions, they are the Ghost and the Darkness."''
-->-- '''Samuel'''

''The Ghost and the Darkness'' is a 1996 American adventure film directed by Stephen Hopkins, starring Creator/ValKilmer and Creator/MichaelDouglas.

The movie tells the VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory (mis)adventure of John Henry Patterson, a British-Irish Lieutenant Colonel and Military Engineer that is assigned the supervision of a railroad's construction in 1898 East Africa. This mission that seems so easy at first is soon complicated by the apparition of two reckless [[IAmAHumanitarian anthropophage]] lions, the ''Ghost'' and the ''Darkness'', that manage to infiltrate every part of the construction camp whenever they please to hunt the workers. This obviously spreads panic among the men and makes the threat of rebellion likely, leaving Patterson with only the help of his African assistant Samuel and the American hunter Remington to face the lions and save the railroad project before it is too late.

Nowadays, the movie seems to be best known for how the main character, Patterson, was heavily toned down to [[ExecutiveMeddling make room for the]] [[WagTheDirector originally tertiary character]] played by producer Michael Douglas.

!!The film provides example of:

%%* AdrenalineMakeover: Patterson.
%%* AgonyOfTheFeet
* AdultFear: Patterson has a dream where the lions attack his newly arrived wife.
* AnimalNemesis: Patterson becomes obsessed with taking down the two lions.
* AnimalisticAbomination: The lions are speculated to be this InUniverse, with Samuel declaring them to be MadeOfEvil.
* ArcSymbol: The beauty of Africa and the dangers lurking underneath is represented by the tall brown Savannah grass. Patterson burns it to flush out the remaining lion. In the ending, he still worriedly looks at the grass, afraid something else might jump out of it.
* ArtisticLicenseBiology: The real [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsavo_maneaters Tsavo maneaters]] had no manes, but audiences would find it strange and less impressive to see male lions without manes.
* BabiesEverAfter: Patterson is reunited with his wife and little child at the end of the movie.
* BadBoss: Sir Robert Beaumont, and he absolutely ''knows'' it. First thing he tells Patterson upon meeting him is that he's a monster and that the latter will grow to hate him.
* BatmanGambit: Both Patterson and the lions do this repeatedly. Patterson's trap was assuming the lion would hit the tripwire, and it worked, but then the lion trapped continually moved and roared, deducing the workers would be too terrified to shoot accurately. When Patterson, Sterling and Samuel corner one of the lions, it hinged on the other one leaping when they were focused. The barn also worked, but the lions were quick to see through it.
* BigBad: The two lions.
* BloodLust: According to the autopsy once the lions have killed [[spoiler: Mahina]] they licked his skin off and drank his blood once it gets out.
* CannibalLarder: The protagonists find the lions' den while tracking them down, and discover that it is littered with bones of the lions' victims, animal... and human.
* CatapultNightmare: Patterson has one.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Sir Robert Beaumont.
* CulturalTranslation: The (Southern) American hunter Charles Remington played by Michael Douglas is entirely fictional and was probably introduced to appeal to American audiences. See also ExecutiveMeddling bellow.
* DaylightHorror: The lions also attack during the day and not only at night.
* DeadpanSnarker:
** A trait of Abdullah's.
--> '''John:''' I will take care of the lions. You will be safe.
--> '''Abdullah:''' About that, I will choose to remain dubious.
** Samuel delivers most of his lines this way.
-->'''Preacher:''' I will not rest until you are all safely in the fold!
-->'''Samuel:''' (blandly) I have four wives.
-->'''Preacher:''' (SpitTake)
* {{Determinator}}: The lions, who in turn to fail to realize that when Patterson says he's never not finished a job, he ''means it''.
---> "I'm going to sort it out." *BLAM* "[[PunctuatedForEmphasis I'm going. To sort! IT OUT!!]]"
* DidIMentionItsChristmas: At one point, apropos of nothing at all, Remington wishes Patterson a merry Christmas.
* EurekaMoment: Patterson's nightmare of the lion jumping out of the grass and killing his family inspires him to burn the grass to flush out the remaining lion.
* ExploringTheEvilLair: Patterson and Remington when they enter in the lions' cave.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: Samuel serves as the story's narrator.
* ForTheEvulz: Implied that's the reason why the lions do their killings. Remington also suggest this when he and Patterson explore their liar full of bones.
--> '''Remington:''' Lions don't do this. Lions... never had a lair like this. They're doing it for the pleasure.
* GenreSavvy: The lions easily outwit Patterson, and the second they walk into a trap, they attack the hospital, knowing it would take them by surprise.
* TheGayNineties: The film takes place during this decade, but given that it takes place in Africa, none of the standard tropes of the setting are in effect.
* GreatWhiteHunter: Present and subverted at the same time. Patterson finds his experience as a big game hunter in India to be almost worthless when dealing with the maneating lions and Remington [[spoiler: is killed by one of them]].
* GoryDiscretionShot: Done a number of times either fully or partially, and to great effect; few immediate wounds the lions cause are even given close, focused attention in most of the shots, but provide just enough of a visual to let the imagination do all the grisly work. Notable subversion is the full frontal shot of [[spoiler: Sterling's gaping neck wounds]]. Played completely straight with [[spoiler: Remington's corpse]]; you never even glimpse so much as an appendage. However, given what man-eaters tend to leave behind, the use of this trope is probably for the best.
* HeroKiller: [[spoiler: Not even great badass hunters like Mahina and Remington can compete against the lions.]]
* IdiotBall: Patterson, an experienced soldier and hunter, decides to change his gun at the last minute and go to hunt the lions without testing it before. Remington calls him on it. Later, all three main characters (Patterson, Remington and Samuel) grab it and decide to party after killing one of the lions, assuming the second will just flee... [[spoiler: but instead comes back to kill Remington.]] The workers assigned to shoot the lion are too terrified to aim properly when it walks into a trap and then try to say the lion kept moving. Patterson calls them on their bad excuse.
* IronicEcho: "You've just been hit. The getting up is up to you."
* ItCanThink: The lions figure out when they're trying to be trapped. The real-life Tsavo Maneaters were notoriously hard to lure into traps, many times going around the traps set by Patterson and striking at the vulnerable workers.
* MadeOfIron: The lions seems almost immortal sometimes.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Are the maneaters merely lions or something supernatural? Working together and hunting for sport leaves some credence to the latter position.
* MightyWhitey: Remington, big time. He is an ex-[[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Confederate]] soldier living among (and at some point commanding) Maasai hunters, for crying out loud.
** Though he seems to be acting more as their agent to English-speaking individuals, as pretty much the first thing Remington does is negotiate payment for the ''Maasai'', not himself.
* MightyRoar: The lions occasionally do one of these. The result: it's quite scary.
* MeaningfulName: Tsavo means slaughter, and it fits all the killing the lions do.
* NameAndName: The Ghost and The Darkness are the names given to the lions by construction workers.
* TheNarrator: Samuel is the narrator.
* NonMaliciousMonster: Subverted, more or less. The lions seems to hunt and kill more for fun than for hunger. One of 'em even leave [[spoiler: Remington's]] corpse where Patterson can see him apparently just to provoke him.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Val Kilmer's Irish accent leaves a lot to be desired.
* RailroadPlot: The obstacle obstructing the railroad is a pair of man-eating lions who are decimating the construction crew.
* RealityIsUnrealistic: One of the most criticized scenes, the one where a lion falls in one of the traps but the three Indian guards fail to kill him until it escapes... not only happened in reality, but in an even more outlandish way. There were actually like 10 men firing on it, who were agents of the [[IncompetentCop Mombasa police]] (not just railroad guards), and the only one bullet that made target broke the cage's lock [[OhCrap letting the lion escape]].
** It's worth mentioning also that the real lions were of a rare stock that doesn't have manes, which is difficult if not impossible - to "respect" in the films. Hence why they are played by normal maned lions in both films.
** Creator/RogerEbert defined the film as "an African adventure that makes the {{Tarzan}} movies look subtle and realistic". Ironic considering it's still BasedOnATrueStory.
** Patterson supposedly killed both lions himself, without the help of any professional hunter. If the story was told as both he and others recorded at the time, people would have been decrying it as a pure ego project on the part of Kilmer, who simply must have forced them to turn the movie into a story about his [[invoked]]GodModeSue.
* RedShirt: Indian and African workers.
%%* SlashedThroat
* SuperPersistentPredator: The lions keep coming no matter what Patterson and Remington throw at them. It is implied that they are hunting humans because they enjoy it, rather than for food.
%%* SuspiciouslyStealthyPredator
* TitleDrop: "The natives call them The Ghost and The Darkness".
%%* VertigoEffect
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: As mentioned above, in many ways the true story was altered to make it ''less'' fantastical and [[RealityIsUnrealistic more believable to movie audiences]].
* TheWorfEffect:
** Mahina [[spoiler: is killed off easily]] after being introduced as a badass. This leaves the rest of the men in an understandable state of panic.
** WordOfGod says [[spoiler: Remington's character was also intended to be this; someone badass whom the lions could kill, making Patterson that much more awesome when he survives.]]